Confessions Of A Professional Emailer That Can Help Improve Your Inbox

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Inbox with 99,999 messages

Yeah, you may want a system for handling these.

Picture an ordinary day at work. How many emails pop up in your inbox? 10? 20? 30? Now, how many of those are actually tasks you have to do at work?

On a regular day, I receive approximately 80 work-related emails. No joke.


Nowadays, it seems that emailing is the most common way of communicating in and out of the office. With almost everyone synching their email to their smartphone, emailing is as efficient (or even more efficient) as texting.

My current TV production job consists of calling and emailing all day to get what I need: talent releases, material releases, permissions, agreements, etc. Having been at it for a few months, I’ve developed a few techniques that could come in handy for my fellow desk sitters who want to email LIKE A BOSS. Check ‘em out.

1. Color Coordinate

Having an organized email helps you prioritize whom and what to answer first. When I receive a message, the first thing I do is label it under one of many categories, like “episode 101” (items for that specific episode), “SALT” (my favorite), and “legal” (my least favorite … just kidding). Each label has its own color and folder. As the colors add up, I can better see what’s most important at the moment.

To organize your email, use big categories—like a location or a project—for folders. Then, file EVERYTHING for it. Sometimes, you might be CC’d on something that doesn’t really pertain to you. Still, put it in the folder. You can find it easier if you need to get in the loop. People like it when you’re in the loop.

2. Create A Professional Email Signature

Email signatures come in various shapes and sizes, from a simple “Have a lovely day, YOUR NAME” to “Have a lovely day, YOUR NAME, PROFESSION, PHONE NUMBER, EMAIL, ADDRESS.” Some signatures have a logo or even an inspiring quote. Whatever you choose, make it your own—but keep it professional.

Setting up signatures is a simple task that can really flavor your email persona. Depending on what tone you want, you can pull in different signatures for different messages (e.g., always including contact information for someone you want to contact you). Just remember to have your name on all of them. That’s kind of the whole point.

3. Separate Your Personal Emails

Your work email is for work, NOT for your daily subscription to BuzzFeed. You may think you “look like you’re doing work” by having your email open, but your boss may have access to that email. Heck. They may have access to your computer, especially if they provided it. What do you want them to find?

Make sure everything you send out via your work account has to do with work. Keeping these separate is key to being functional and successful at work. Imagine if my subscription to kitty videos got to my work email. I’d get NOTHING done. It’s too hard not to click “watch now.”

4. Set Up Email Templates

Email templates save you a LOT of time. With just a click, you can change from template to template, depending on what you want to do.

These past few weeks, I’ve been looking for someone to create illustrations for a documentary series. After contacting around 10 companies, I realized I was pretty much sending the same email over and over. So, I created an email template for this pitch. I also created a template for letting people know when we’re not hiring them. All those rejection emails I’ve received over the years really helped on that one.

Just remember to proofread emails you send from templates. Sending the wrong info to the wrong person (or calling them the wrong name) is definitely not something a professional emailer like you should do.

How do you manage your email? Share your tips in the comments.

(Photo: Jason Rogers)

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